Everyone Wants an Octopus Book! is out in the world

Hooray – my latest picture book is well and truly out, so I thought it was about time to blog again!

Everyone Wants an Octopus Book! (written by me, illustrated by Makoto Koji and published by Bright Light at Hardie Grant Children’s Books) hit bookshop and library shelves in late-March. It’s essentially the story of an octopus named Inky who can’t find any books with characters like them, and their supportive duck friend, Quack, who encourages them to write their own. It’s a dialogue-only tale about the importance of seeing yourself in stories!

To celebrate its release, I held an online story time with the State Library of NSW, sharing stories, quizzes and craft with some preschools and schools. A great opportunity but slightly surreal in that you can’t actually see the kids via the Zoom screen so it was a bit like talking to myself?!

I’ve also been an author guest in the fabulous monthly Picture Book Book Club Twitter chat, which has a lovely mix of teacher librarians, authors and illustrators joining in and and sharing book recommendations, answering qs (topic for mine: Representation in Stories), and asking interesting things in an author Q&A at the end. I love participating in this virtual PB book club generally, so it was fun to be on the other side for a change! Yes, we still call it a Twitter chat, not an X chat, as that just doesn’t have the same ring to it! I’ve also done a few podcast interviews, which you can tune into below:

Words and Nerds takeover episode on Everyone Wants an Octopus Book!

On Dani Vee’s Words and Nerds podcast, I hosted a takeover episode with some fellow Bright Light picture book authors – Dr Zewlan Moor, sharing insights into her fantastic book Nothing Alike, and Sandhya Parappukkaran on her books like Stay for Dinner. We chatted about the common themes linking our picture books, like the way we cover tricky or zeitgeisty kind of topics, but in kid-centric, non-didactic ways. It was such an interesting chat and I always love hearing from these talented authors, two of my absolute faves!

Reading with a Chance of Tacos interview with Liz Ledden

Then in kidlit funfest Reading with a Chance of Tacos podcast, I chatted to host Ken Williams all about Everyone Wants an Octopus Book!, plus general ramblings on writing life, from different story formats to favourite places to write.

Speaking of podcasts, I was lucky enough to have Everyone Wants an Octopus Book! reviewed on another episode of Tacos by junior reviewer Liv, as well as on Your Kids Next Read, the kids’ book podcast hosted by Allison Tait and Megan Daley. And they all said nice things. Yay!

Liz Ledden interview on Just Write for Kids

And for an interview you can read rather than listen to, here’s a ‘Quick Six’ interview with Just Write for Kids blog, for yet more bookish background.

A few more new release highlights include some signings at local bookshops, a great review on CBCA Reading Time, and several airport bookshop sightings. I’ve yet to see it there myself, just via people’s pics. But – excitement! As far as I know, this is the first time I’ve had a book stocked in airports and I love the idea of it potentially being purchased and flown somewhere faraway! Some interstate pals have tagged and shared pics of my book in shops I’ve yet to visit, and it was part of Scholastic/ASO’s Standing Orders (curated book packs ordered by schools). Which also means teaching notes have been developed to support studying and enjoying the book in classrooms and school libraries. You can download them here.

Oh, and one other exciting moment was being on the program of a fantastic writers’ festival, Words on the Waves on the NSW Central Coast! I was part of the Ripples schools day, running workshops for primary school kids with creators like Binny Talib, Wai Chim, Pip Harry, Tim Harris, Tohby Riddle and my illustrator friend Nisaluk Chantanakom, whose beautiful debut picture book A Teaspoon of Light is now out. It was so much fun, and so exciting to be part of. Here’s some of us – not sure what happened with the weird light situation!

Words on the Waves festival_Liz Ledden

Thanks for reading this far on my new book wrap-up! One last thing … I’ve been thinking about blogging a bit lately and wondering if I should write here more regularly. Lots of authors and creators have launched Substack newsletters and as much as I love reading them, I’m not sure about starting something new and rustling up subscribers from scratch, when I have a pre-existing thing here all ready and waiting for me to update?! Okay, that settles it – blogging it is! Weird how blogs are so old school now?! But with social media becoming increasingly fragmented and with everyone so disillusioned with it, maybe reverting back to a home base like a blog is a good idea … will ponder some more and hopefully drop in here again soon!

Cover reveal: Everyone Wants an Octopus Book!

Super excited to share the cover of my upcoming picture book, EVERYONE WANTS AN OCTOPUS BOOK!, illustrated by Makoto Koji and published by Hardie Grant/Bright Light Publishing!

So, what’s it about? Besides octopuses, of course!

Everyone Wants an Octopus Book! is a thought-provoking picture book about about how everyone deserves to see themselves in books.

Inky the octopus wants to read a book with a character that looks like them. With their best friend, Quack the duck, they scour every shelf, but all they seem to find are more books about ducks! Why aren’t there any stories with octopuses? They decide maybe it’s time for one.

It’s due out in early-March 2024 and pre-orders are open here. Can’t wait to share more as time gets closer!

A bookish Autumn

Autumn is all but over, and in a weird absence of red and yellow leaves, it’s at least been sprinkled with bookish highlights. Each recent event, book launch or catch up has felt like a post(ish)-Covid reunion, or a frenzied fun-fest in case we’re locked down once more (sorry, Melbourne. It might be us too at any moment.)

Walking Your Human was royally read by Sarah Ferguson (as in, the Duchess of York herself – whaaaat?!) on her YouTube channel! Super exciting to see, and there was even a real life dog in the recording studio (just like the dogs in the book – with a mind of its own). Check it out:

I also attended a sparkly, feelgood launch for a non-profit kids’ anthology produced by the CBCA Eastern Suburbs Sydney sub-branch. Old Worlds New Worlds Other Worlds is full of poems, stories, plays and illustrations by a huge range of creators, and I was so thrilled to contribute a play co-written by team One More Page called Kate, Liz and Nat’s Epic Picnic. It’s a wacky little adventure to another world via a playground rocket ship (and what happens when you’re followed home by space puppies!). The Governor of NSW, the Hon. Margaret Beazley AC QC ran the official launch proceedings, CBCA’s Elizabeth Cummings MCed, and a bunch of us read excerpts from our stories. It was fun to catch up with so many people in the kidlit community, moments that are no longer taken for granted in this Covid-y world we find ourselves in.

There’s been some other great events too! I had a whirlwind weekend in Canberra, not only taking in art, visiting playgrounds resembling seed pods and whizzing by the lake on an electric scooter (recommend!), but presenting at the SCBWI ACT Conference, too. This was a wonderful event run by Shelly Unwin, Catherine Meatheringham and team, full of inspiring talks. Kate, Nat and I did individual talks, then came together later for a panel about our podcast, One More Page. Illustrator Max Hamilton spoke about her illustration journey with lots of tips for getting your illustration work noticed. Maryanne Ballantyne and Donna Rawlins from Wild Dog Books spoke too, which was very entertaining! My talk was a workshop on tapping into your talents to enhance your kids’ book career, with interactive bits making everyone do a bit of self-analysis. It was fun! And some attendees later told me they had a few lightbulb moments, which makes me very happy indeed.

A fab weekend in Canberra, presenting at the ACT SCBWI Conference

I also spoke about Walking Your Human at a CBCA Eastern Suburbs event (more book peeps! More catch ups! Plus dumplings!) and did a team presentation about One More Page for a CBCA Newcastle meeting, this time via Zoom.

In between, there’s been writing, podcasting (my most recent interview was with author Yvette Poshoglian – you can tune in here), and of course, reading. For my adult book club, we just read The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. In #LoveOzYA reading, I devoured Jenna Guillaume’s You Were Made For Me, which was lots of fun (think a dream boy brought to life, Weird Science style). I’m currently reading timeslip middle grade Elsewhere Girls by faves Nova Weetman and Emily Gale, and next up is Plum and Woo by Lisa Siberry, a female-centric middle grade detective series. A picture book standout from the pile was Anna MacGregor’s new title with Scribble, A Pair of Pears and an Orange. So cute and clever!

I’m not sure what winter will bring, but it better be book-filled and non-virusy, and also involve ramen. Happy reading and writing! x

A buzzy, buggy book launch!

Tulip and Brutus is officially launched! I was completely overwhelmed with the turnout and buzz at the Sydney launch – a weird and wonderful whirlwind of a morning.

Held upstairs at Berkelouw Books in Leichhardt, with the amazing Rachel Robson at the organising helm, it was such a fun time. Think an overloaded table of buggish treats like strawberry, oreo and cupcake ladybugs, and cookie stinkbugs (promptly demolished), plus a truly spectacular rendition of ‘I Got You Bug’ (think I Got You Babe, on … a lot of sugar) by my giant buggy launchers – One More Page podcast co-hosts and writers’ group buddies, Kate and Nat. Totes brought the house down.

After a book reading, I ran a game where kids could spin a game show-ish wheel to win either a chocolate bug or a real bug, a crunchy cricket. The uptake for the crickets was far more enthusiastic than I anticipated. Yay! How delicious are bugs?!

There were so many awesome people in the room, from old friends and family members to my kids’ school friends to writerly people from all the kidlit places, like SCBWI. I had an epic book sign-a-thon which was *surreal*, a gazillion photos were taken, and it all went by in a dreamlike blur. And I get to do it all again soon in Melbourne with the book’s publisher Ford Street and illustrator Andrew Plant too, hooray! If you’re Melbourne-based and around on Saturday 9 November, I’d love to see you there (find the details over on my FB Author page).

Huge thanks to everyone who shared their snaps with me – my mum, Steve, Mali, Amelia, Amanda and probably more – thanks all!

What else?

An author talk
Soon after the Sydney launch, I visited Shellharbour Library for an author talk with the most lovely writers and illustrators group. It was a really fun morning complete with another book reading, signing and sales, and an extensive q&a type book chat about the writing and publication journey. And we ate more bugs! Local writer Karen Hendriks was a fab host, taking me on a tour of the town including a stunning beach viewpoint.

Some longlistings
I randomly entered the Lane Cove Literary Awards and found myself longlisted in the Travel Story category, woo hoo! I didn’t progress beyond the longlist, but it was nevertheless a bit of a boost and a reminder of my pre-kidlit love for non-fiction travel writing (and of course, travelling). I also entered a pitching contest via Just Write for Kids, and just found out I’m on the picture book longlist. Fingers crossed! But regardless of the outcome, it was a great way to pin down a pitch for that particular story anyway!!

A podcast interview
Along with getting to interview (aka fangirl over) amazing people for my kids’ book podcast with Nat and Kate, One More Page, I am now on the show as an interviewee! In Episode 39, we have none other than Newbery Medal-winning, New York Times bestselling author Kate DiCamillo on the show (!!!) which is surreal enough in itself. Then there’s a kid interviewer chatting with me about Tulip and Brutus and friendship in kids’ books in the same episode’s Kids Capers segment. Have I used the word surreal in this post already?! Yes. Yes, I have. You can listen to the episode here and subscribe to One More Page on whichever app you devour your podcasts.

A Twitter chat

I’ve found myself not only in a podcast interview but as the guest of a Twitter chat – happening next Thursday night! I’m a huge fan of Picture Book Book Club and love their monthly chats, so it’s pretty awesome to be a guest in one (vs usual groupie). Kidlit twitter peeps – feel free to find and join (#picbookbc).

Yet more book talk …

Find more Tulip and Brutus talk on Creative Kids Tales, Just Write for Kids, Kids Book Review (plus I popped up as one of their 12 Curly Questions posts), I wrote a piece on friendship and school libraries which is on the Ford Street blog, and if you subscribe to the Pass It On kidlit newsletter, you may have seen an interview with me there recently, too. Phew!

Ok, enough with all things me and my book. I will be back next time celebrating all the other books I’ve been reading and loving lately!

Tulip and Brutus: Picture book launch time!

Tulip and Brutus is now officially out! But the excitement is only beginning as there are a few launch events imminent.

First up, the Sydney launch at Berkelouw Books in Leichhardt on 20 October, followed by a mini-launch/author talk for a dynamic group of kids’ book writers and illustrators down south coast way in Shellharbour (day trip time!) on 22 October, then a Melbourne launch at Ford Street HQ, the book’s publishers, on 9 November.

Here are the details, especially if you’re Sydney or Melbourne-based and would like to come along! As you can see, they’re both being launched by kidlit podcasters, too. The Sydney launch by my One More Page podcast co-hosts, Kate and Nat, and the Melbourne launch by Middle Grade Mavens hosts, Julie and Pamela!




You can RSVP to this one via the Facebook event – find it on the Berkelouw Books Leichhardt page or my author page.



Time to get our buggish baking on …